President Biden delivered his second State of the Union Address on February 7, 2023, against a backdrop of Americans stating that the nation’s economy is the top policy priority. The President’s Address brought a strong focus on the progress, resilience and possibility of America, and building an economy where nobody is left behind.
That’s important – right now, some Americans do feel invisible and left behind. This is often true for Americans experiencing lower incomes and lower wealth, and it’s especially resonant within communities of color and Indigenous communities, which experience sharp wealth and income gaps stemming from our nation’s legacy of colonialism, slavery and inequitable policies.
I’ve witnessed the power of policy – to harm, but also to heal. The President’s message spoke to the need for policies that promote transformative healing in the lives of children, families and communities – policies focused on economic solutions, policies grounded in equity and fairness, and policies focused on building relationships across our differences and honoring our common humanity.
At the Kellogg Foundation, we know that good policy isn’t built overnight. It’s informed, shaped and analyzed by communities and policy change experts to ensure it will have long-term, positive outcomes for children and communities. When communities have a hand in creating, negotiating and implementing solutions, the policies are more relevant, more likely to be embraced, and ultimately more sustainable.
The coming weeks and months will be a busy time in our nation’s policymaking cycle. Our policy leaders would be well-served to remember that communities are an active part of a thriving democracy – hearing solutions devised by communities, in partnership with experts, is a wise step toward reducing the number of people who feel invisible or left behind in America.